Throw Duracells at the Phillies Ownership

Thursday, June 19, 2008 ·

Via Deadspin, Philly Mag posted a nice ten-page article discussing the patheticness of the Phillies ownership over the years. In the article, author Richard Rye goes into great detail to discuss how the ownership could not care any less about producing a consistent winning organization, but care more about dollars and cents.

They also pointed out who is to blame for the JD Drew fiasco.

What the Phillies owners want everyone to forget about the J.D. Drew debacle is that it was completely avoidable — before he was drafted, Drew, and Boras, made it clear he expected a staggering $10 million signing bonus. The Phillies figured they could strong-arm the two once Drew was picked. But Wade vs. Boras was an epic mismatch, and although Boras reportedly cut his demand in half, the Phillies refused to go above $2.6 million — right where the league wanted them to stay. Drew ended up in St. Louis, and the Phillies wasted an elite draft pick. Drew’s first appearance at Vets Stadium led to the infamous battery-pelting incident, but the fans should have aimed their Duracells at the owners’ box.

It's a shame that we finally have a team that is so close, but their front office lacks any courage to do what is right for the team or the city. Year after year, we hear the same old story. We hear about how the 5th largest city is a small-market team. We hear about how we were in the running for certain stars, but we just can never sign them.
Each year, the league estimates the size of the signing bonuses teams should award to each of their draft choices; last year, the first pick was slotted at $3.6 million, number two was $3.15 million, and so on. The most promising pitcher on the market, right-handed stud Rick Porcello, was still available when the Phillies selected at 19, most likely because Porcello’s agent is Scott Boras — king of the record-breaking contract, Satan in a suit in the eyes of MLB. Boras had already burned the Phillies with J.D. Drew, the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, whose contract demands the team deemed outrageous and whose name is still a source of anguish within the organization. Montgomery passed on Porcello, drafting a less-heralded lefty and paying him $1,372,500 — precisely what the league slotted as the bonus for pick number 19. Porcello fell to the Detroit Tigers, one of those renegade teams, who signed him for $3,580,000, more than $2 million above what the league wanted them to spend.
This is what happens with our team. They don't care about building a championship driven franchise at all. Their motto seems to be: "Winning would be nice, but it's not the ultimate goal." The only one who truly seems to care is part owner John Middleton, the man who sold his cigar company for $2.9 billion. He's has been quoted as to have wanted to be like the Yankees and just buy everyone. The problem is that is stake is too small to have majority control. So, we get stuck with the likes of Dave Montgomery, who's timid caution is something we've all grown to hate as Phillies fans.
The Phillies were selling NL East Championship hats and tees as fast as they could make them last fall, but months later, they rewarded All Star Cole Hamels with a paltry $100,000 raise, and strong-armed Ryan Howard into arbitration that they lost. In an eyeblink, fan optimism gave way to portentous nightmares of Howard jacking home runs in a Red Sox jersey and Hamels no-hitting for the Yankees in the next few years. Who will be held accountable if this team is a shell of itself by 2012?

The answer is, no one. If you stop buying tickets, they’ll simply lower the payroll. If the Phillies fall into the MLB cellar, the league’s revenue-sharing plan will keep them afloat. If a newspaper columnist or sports-radio provocateur leads a campaign against them, Gentleman Dave will take the heat, smiling all along, while the owners he protects stay silent, hoping everyone will focus on something besides wins and losses and a 1,600 percent increase in the value of the team since they bought it. That’s the way the business of baseball is done in this town. Dare to dream of the day when change will come, Phillies fans. But as always, don’t get your hopes up.
There isn't much that we can do as fans, but it has gotten to the point where we have to voice our displeasure someway, somehow. It took the Phillies nearly 100 years to win their first World Series and they have continually looked like a pretender more than a contender ever since. This year's team has some swagger, but they don't have the ultimate consistency or pitching talent to make a deep postseason run. It almost seems rare that the Phillies click on all cylinders with both dominate hitting and pitching. Adam Eaton and Cole Hamels lead the league in quality starts where their offense has failed to score more than 3 runs. I don't want to bash the players. They are what they are. I don't even want to be negative with a first place team, but the things that Richard Rye said needed to be said. It has been going on for far too long and a change of complete ownership control might be the only difference maker, especially when Gillick's replacement will likely be an understudy of Ed Wade.

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